On any given day more than 800 million women and girls are menstruating, yet menstrual health and hygiene is a neglected health and development issue. As defined by UNICEF and WHO, Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) is when women and adolescent girls use clean material to absorb or collect menstrual blood. This material can be changed in privacy as often as necessary for the duration of the menstrual period. MHM includes soap and water for washing the body as required, and access to facilities to dispose of used menstrual management materials.
UNESCO includes additional systemic factors such as informed and comfortable professionals, referral and access to health services, positive social norms and advocacy and policy to the MHM definition.
Managing periods at home, school and work is a major challenge for women and adolescent girls who lack Water, Sanitation and Hygiene basic facilities. About half of the schools in low-income countries lack adequate drinking water, sanitation and hygiene crucial for girls and female teachers to manage their period. Poor menstrual hygiene can pose physical health risks and has been linked to reproductive and urinary tract infections. Many girls and women have limited options for affordable menstrual materials causing them to resort to unhealthy methods and even missing school or work.
Tips to maintain hygiene during menstruation:
- Choose your most preferred safe method of period care: There are a number of methods; there are pads, sanitary napkins, tampons and menstrual cups
- Clean yourself regularly by taking a shower or bath at least once a day.
- Change pads or tampons regularly based on the heaviness of your flow to prevent infections.
- Ensure that you wash your hands with soap and water before and after changing your sanitary product.
- Change into properly cleaned underwear every day.
- Use only warm water to clean the genital area as soaps or vaginal hygiene products will kill the good bacteria making way for infections.
- Always keep the area between the legs and vagina dry to discourage infections.
- Always wash or wipe the genitals from front to back to keep away bacteria from the anus from the vagina and urethral opening preventing infection.
- Discard your used sanitary product properly as they are capable of spreading infections,
- Wrap used the sanitary product well before discarding it to contain smell and infection.
- Do not flush used pads or tampons down the toilet as they will block the toilet.
- Carry your well-stored sanitary products during your periods for you to change as needed.
It’s time for us to take action to maintain proper menstrual hygiene for our well-being and productivity.